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Attitudes to tax and spending

RS1315 Income And Benefits Money Istock Scr
Published: September 2018

We provide an analysis of how attitudes toward tax and spending have shifted across the entire period (over 30 years) that British Social Attitudes (BSA) has been running.

Aim

Since 1983 we have been asking a cross-section of the population about their attitudes towards taxes and public spending: whether they want this to be increased, maintained or reduced. We provide an analysis of how attitudes toward tax and spending have shifted across the entire period (over 30 years) that British Social Attitudes (BSA) has been running.

This report also includes people’s priority areas for extra governmental spending; we examine how political affiliation and age are correlated with people’s views on these subjects.

Findings

  • In 2017 support for increased taxes to spend more on health, education and social benefits is at its highest (60%) since 2002 (63%). Whereas those who want the existing levels of taxation and expenditure to remain are at their lowest in 2017 (33%) since 2002 (31%). 
  • Two-thirds of Labour Supporters (67%) want increased taxation; for the first time in 15 years, a majority of conservative supporters (53%) also say the same.
  • Around half (53%) say their first priority for extra governmental spending is ‘Health’, with over a quarter selecting ‘Education’ (26%) as their first priority.
  • Whilst a majority of all ages favour increased tax and spending, those aged 55 to 64 are notably more in favour of increased taxes and spending (67%) compared with 18-24 year olds (56%). 

Method

Figures within the report are based on responses to the British Social Attitudes 2017 Survey, for more detailed information on the methodology used please consult our technical report.